The Hour of Code

This week encourages an Hour of Code which is an annual event students are happy to join in, especially when they know that others across the world are participating.

There are always engaging challenges posted online for students to try. When they complete the challenge, a certificate is provided. Students right click on the certificate and save it in their folder. Students then add the image to a post on their blog.

The following links were given and students could choose which one they would like to try. Some completed two or more of the activities within the hour.

  1. Studio Code
  2. Hour of Code Activities or
  3. Studio code 2019 

Follow the conversations on Twitter #HourofCode @codeorg

A panellist on the Shymkemt, Kazakhastan Flash Mob Jury

Over the last three years, I have been priveleged to be a jury member (judge) for the Shymkemt Flash Mob Jury. This is an amazing collaborative event held at a school in the  Republic of Kazakhstan to celebrate the UN International Day for Tolerance in November. Students at this school in Shymkemt perform a dance as part of a group of 10 or more students to their choice of music which can often mash and incorporate music from different genres including traditional folk.

Organisation on a global scale – largely led by Begaim, one of the teachers. Each year it improves and allows for many of the judges who speak English as their first or second language.

  • a call for jury members (or judges) is sent out world wide through a variety of Skype group lists.
  • a link is provided to a google sheet for educators/classes to add their names as jury members.
  • A Skype group is formed as a backchannel prior to, during and after the event.
  • The Flash Mob is live streamed through Youtube, with a test connection prior to the event.
  • Prior to the official event, a professional and highly engaging video showing Shymkemt is played through the youtube channel.
  • As the event starts two student leaders welcome everyone and announce the global judges which are a mix of teachers and classes from countries across the world – Germany, Bangladesh, Russia, Vietnam, Australia, USA, Sth Korea, Kasakhstan,  Taiwan, Hungary etc
  • Thirteen groups performed. Each of them was judged on a number of criteria and given a score from 5 to 10. They were judged on dance energy, team spirit, musicality, dance synchrony, creativity, appearance. Scores were added to the collaborative google sheet after each performance.
  • Students chose their own music and made up their own moves. All were of a high standard and scores were close
  • A master sheet kept track of the totals
  • After approximately 1.5 hours, the final scores and winners were announced

See the video

Reflections

  • it is very special to be a virtual judge of events like this
  • live participants in the youtube channel came from a variety of countries so their comments came up in their native language – fascinating to watch and to try and translate!
    languages in global judging
  • the youtube channel showed the name of the group who was currently performing so we were all judging the right group
  • however, as a collaborative sheet was worked on, someone was entering their scores on my sheet which threw me out as I looked like I was judging the dance group that had not yet started and not the current one.

Those confusing Time Zones

clock

Time zones can be very confusing and can be a major challenge for those who wish to connect globally in real time. Australia is one of the first countries to enter a new day so even though we may get the times right, we may have the wrong day as it can be Thursday for me and Wednesday for other countries eg USA. Then daylight saving is used in many countries. My students are always fascinated with the fact that they live in the future for many!!!

It is important to understand gmt or utc time as all countries can work out the time difference using this measurement. I live in SE Australia so for half the year, I am gmt+10 and when daylight saving starts, am gmt+11 or AEDT.

Following are some apps and tools that can help:

  1. Time on a smart mobile (cell) phone
  2. Time and date  Timeanddate
  3. Doodle  Doodle
  4. World Time Buddy  World Time Buddy

As I use a windows computer and laptop, another option has been brought to my attention from Joe McNaulty in USA.

Here’s how to add UTC to your Windows 10 Task Bar: https://www.windowscentral.com/how-set-multiple-time-zone-clocks-windows-10 Puts it in the lower right corner when you hover over your clock.

I am going to try doing this as it may be the efiicient way to check when I decisions have to be made quickly.

Kahoot with Asia

code and names

A message came up in one of my Skype groups, to say that a teacher, Sunny, from Vietnam was looking for classes to play a Kahoot game with. The topic was “American Education” – not really a topic that my students would be confident on, but I thought they might have playing with the class from Vietnam.

the three classes

However, I did not have my year 8 class until 2 hours after the requested time. Sunny said that she could work in with my timetable. At the agreed time, we connected using Skype videoconferencing. After some introductory comments and introductions, another class appeared. However, as time was limited, there was no time to intoduce ourselves as we had to login using the code and start playing. Students opened up Kahoot on the desktop computers of their laptops. The code was visible when Sunny shared her screen.

entering the code on the mobile phones

We used visual clues to try and determine what country they were from as we could see their class as we played. Their facial features were Asian in nature and one of the girls who we could see wore a hijab. We assumed it was a private school as the boys wore ties. Our guess was Malaysia and once the game had ended this was verified. They were from Kajang Bandar Jamaludin, Malaysia.

head scarf on girl and mobile phone

As students logged in, we could see the Asian names and English names all dropping in on the screen. Some added emoticons etc. To our amazement, all the other students were using individual mobile phones to play. (Our education department is banning the use of mobile phones in our schools next year. At this stage, students in our school can only use them if a teacher has directed them. They cannot access the school wifi and as there is little mobile phone reception where the school is located, they are unable to effectively use them for online purposes.)

american education

The game started! Initially one of my students was leading but due to our lack of knowledge, were overtaken. However, they all had fun and learned from some of the answers to the questions given.

Reflections

  1. Students had great fun playing with students from other countries.
  2. They could see what Asian classes look like and sound like.
  3. My students were exposed to different names from Vietnam and Malaysia as they logged on with the Asian names. Too often students from other countries adopt an English name and use that.

 

Reflections on Microsoft Global Learning Connections

 

jute doll1

 

This time of year is always so busy, with senior students completing exams, school reports needing to be done and lots of potential to get involved in global events and projects. Our school year is drawing to a close.

no sign.jpg

However, Nov 5 and 6 were great days to be involved in connecting with others during the Microsoft Global Learning Connections. Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of junior computer classes on these days, but we were still able to connect and link with a number of countries including

  • Vietnam
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Argentina
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sth Africa
  • Beirut
  • Phillipines
  • USA (I connected early in my morning to talk to them at the end of their school day. It was Nov 7 for me and technically the celebrations had finished, but it was still Nov 6 for them).

What did we do?

  • Played Mystery Skype with most of the countries and students
  • Watched amazing yoga feats by students from India and saw some of their great craft work.
    tortured position1.jpg
  • Saw traditional dancing from Sri Lanka
    students and sri lanka
  • Participated in the MS Global Connections Playground with Steve Sherman from Sth Africa. There were educators from Beirut and Phillipines etc. I had students creating Lego robots so they were able to show their robots.
    5 countries
  • I was going to share our farm with the US students, but my sound did not work.

Lessons learnt:

Always test the connection As I had been on Skype so much at the beginning of the week, I did not test my audio when I connected with Steve Auslander’s class in the USA at 7am my time. Unfortunately, my audio did not work. Despite trying to mute, unmute and other quick possible fixes, they still could not hear me. So miming got me through with the few active minutes that I had with them, as it was the very end of their school day.

Expect the Unexpected: I had accepted Skype requests through the Skype in the Classroom website, but sometimes when the actual call came through, it was from a completely different Skype ID. Redferns School in India was one example. Their yoga performance for us was amazing as was the craft work they showed us. So glad, I accepted that call.

As I only had one or two classes that could connect, we had a number of sessions booked for that 50 minute period. Oher global classes were often held up and tried to ring us later than we expected. So we had to quickly finish some connections and be prepared for interuptions and delays. One option might have been to do a group call. There were so many educators and classes actively looking to connect and spending a longer time in the call.

Be better prepared: We loved looking at the craft work, the signs made, the dances and yoga demonstrations. Next time we will try and prepare things better to show a little about us.

 

 

 

Microsoft Global Learning Connections

Having used Skype for many years and found that it is still the one webconferencing tool that works well in my school and the area I live as it is not heavy on bandwidth. Microsoft took over Skype several years ago and instigated an annual 24 hour Skypeathon.

This year, they have changed the title to Microsoft Global Learning Connections which will encompass other collaborative tools eg Flipgrid, Teams etc but all the while encouraging classes across the world to become connected.

It is always a great experience to connect. Some classes sleep over at school for the 24 hours. Some of our past experiences included live linkups with schools in India who showed their traditional costumes and dancing, others demonstrated their outcomes in robotics, some played mystery Skype with us and some just called to quickly say hello.

Flipgrid is a trending tool to use in global connections and collaboration and it can be used with great success when time zones make it impossible to connect in real time.

Will you be involved this year? My classes certainly will. The hashtag being used is #MSFTGlobalConnect For more information check out some of the links below from Microsoft.

MSFTGlobalConnect.com

Teacher Toolkit: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectTeacherToolkit

Activity Plan: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectPlan

Educator Tips on how to organise an class/schoo event: aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectTips

Social Toolkit (ready-made templates etc.): aka.ms/MSFTGlobalConnectSocial

 

Connecting with China

forbidden city.jpg

Every two years, students of Hawkesdale P12 College and parents are offered the opportunity to visit China. Mandarin Chinese is the second language taught. Approximately 10 days are spent in China, including four nights spent at our sister school, Beijing no. 27 Middle School,  several nights in Xian and the final days spent in Shanghai. Students stay with Chinese host families in their homes. in Beijing.

Social media enables the students to stay in touch with their families and friends back in Australia, and to stay in touch with their host families once they leave Beijing. It is essential to be able to contact the tour guides that accompany the group during the daytime.

Wechat is the biggest communication tool used in China and is used for everything including as a mobile payment app. Before the students and parents left, we tried to setup their mobile phones with the app but had all sorts of trouble activating the app. As it was nearly time to leave, it was decided to find another app. However, this is difficult as facebook, snapchat, blogs etc are all blocked when in China. A VPN is required to access them, but these are not technically legal, they can be blocked at any time and it would not be socially responsible for us to use a VPN whilst there.

Skype was suggested but we needed to find out whether it required a VPN. Fortunately, through Skype in the Classroom network, the names of two Skype Master teachers who work in China were provided. These teachers assured me that a VPN was not required. Students downloaded the Skype app and were added to a group that included the teachers attending and family members.

It has worked really well, with daily schedules posted, lots of pictures shared of what everyone has been up to, videos, questions and generally maintaining contact, especially when students were staying with their host families. It meant that the people back home could ‘live’ the experience with them and I could share many of the photos and videos with my students as they were shared. Skype was used to connect classes back at Hawkesdale with the students in Beijing and the calls could be recorded for future use in the Chinese classroom

lunch time.jpg